How App Science Will Revolutionize Advertising

The following is a guest contributed post from Sudha Reddy, VP Product Innovation at Sabio Mobile.

Marketers have essentially become data scavengers, gathering various scraps of information on potential customers and stitching them together in order to get a better picture. The big issue they contend with on a daily basis is where they should be getting their data from. Should it be coming from someone’s cookie trail, left behind as they peruse various sites, or should they rely on 3rd party vendor data or insights coming from a brand survey? Or, better yet, is the information coming from a source that you know people spend a great deal of time on, and that is able to keep up with a marketer’s constant need for updated, near real-time information (ie. mobile phones)? After all, why waste time piecing together a data quilt when you can simply examine people’s behavior on a much larger and more accurate scale? App science allows you to do exactly that, giving you the ability to examine the behavior of smartphone users and then using that information to give you a better, more comprehensive picture of your potential consumers – which in turn will make you a better advertiser.

There can be a big difference between what people say and what they do. App science removes the guesswork, and allows the customer to be seen exactly as they are.

Think about how much of your daily life occurs through the lens of your smartphone. When you commute, do you stream music using Spotify or Pandora? Maybe you scroll through The Guardian’s app to catch up on the latest news. Perhaps, when you’re at a coffee shop waiting for a friend to arrive, you order that pair of sneakers that you’ve had your eye on for a while. Every single interaction you have with an app says something about you, about the way you respond to certain stimuli.

Not only that, every action that someone takes on their smartphone constitutes another data point, a data point that can be used to map out consumer behavior and build models capable of predictive analytics. Let’s say, for example, someone is looking to get fit in the new year. They decide to download a few apps to monitor their diet, count their steps and log exercise. Based on that information, an advertiser might conclude that this user is more likely to respond positively to an ad for a nearby gym, or a meal subscription plan, or exercise clothing, and be targeted accordingly.

It seems shocking, then, that so few marketers are looking directly to smartphone data to provide a window into their customers’ lives, especially considering what that data can tell you about people’s habits and buying tendencies. Consider how many millions of people, in the US and around the world, use their smartphones and/or tablets on a daily basis. Using app science, all of the information from those interactions can be collected and analyzed to discover patterns that will help marketers reach their consumers at the right time, in the right place, and with the right product.

For those who might be skeptical about what new insights smartphone data can offer, I would offer several statistics. First, there’s the fact that over three-quarters of US adults say they own a smartphone, which is a sizeable source of information to begin with. Second, Mobile usage has not only long surpassed desktop but 90% of consumer’s time is spent in apps. Third, it’s important to keep in mind the fact that more and more households rely solely on smartphones as their primary way to access the Internet, both in the US and abroad. So, if one were to focus only on data from desktops, one would not only leave out the experiences of a considerable slice of the US population (around 12%, according to some estimates) but also miss out on measuring several advertising metrics.

The great revolution that app science promises, then, is to give voice to a larger percentage of people than ever before, and make sure that their experiences are taken into account. There are so many different sources of data, but few that are capable of providing as holistic a picture as smartphone data. By understanding how and why people use apps, brands will be able to market their products to the people who need them, and ensure that they are able to reach people where they are and with the message they’re looking for. Using app science allows marketers to take into account such factors as a person’s location, demographics, purchase behavior and interests, which in turn will enable them to better understand their audience and the people most likely to respond to their ads. App science no longer remains a value add but a necessity for marketers if they truly want to capture the right audience at the right time.